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Another Advance Toward Conversational Synthesis

In this month’s newsletter, The Future of the Web, Part 1, I spent some time talking about how in the future, we will manage data using conversational synthesis technology. By “conversational synthesis,” I’m envisioning tools that receive data from various sources and condense it into one easily manageable stream. The conversational piece refers to how these tools will allow users to query the database with natural language, creating new types of reports on an ad hoc basis and not having to parse through pre-configued report results and combine them to get the answers they really need. This kind of advance is going to take some work in various areas, so I’m not expecting this kind of experience anytime soon.

But I have noticed other examples of advances in synthesis online recently. One type in particular, which I ended up editing out of the newsletter but I thought it was worth mentioning in the blog, are online reports depending upon Twitter feeds. On the base level, an example of this is offered by Twitter itself in it’s search tool. I can search Twitter for trending topics (indicated by # marks in tweets) and then scroll through all the messages that correspond. This came in handy last week when I wanted to monitor how Mark was doing in his two presentations at the How conference. I just searched Twitter for “#howconf” and was able to see everyone’s feedback- which was very positive, by the way.

Another example of this is a site called SickCity.org. This site pulls it’s data from Twitter feeds and allows you to search for a city and see graphs of what maladies its citizens are suffering from (and then twittering about). It’s a neat concept, of course, it depends upon users including specific words in their tweets- not any hidden magic 😉

One last example that you may have already heard about: Toscaninis, a Boston ice cream shop, displays Twitter mentions on a screen in their main room. Nice idea!

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